Ask Miss Elliott

The final installment of #AskMissElliott this year featured some interesting questions, some stupid questions and some that weren’t even questions! So here we are, a few of the choice questions!

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Once you started working in this school, what class did you teach first?

I started as a TA in Year 6. Did 3 years in Year 6, then moved to Year 4 as a TA. Two years of being a TA in Y4 and then I got my HLTA job. Ever since I have been all over the school! 

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What is your favourite ice-cream flavour?

Mint choc chip or raspberry ripple. It depends on my mood, but I would never turn down either of those!

 

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Have you ever had a pet?

We had a dog called Sheba when I was a baby and then we had a cat called Jasper. We’ve not had a pet for many years though. I would love to have a cat. I am definitely a cat person, not a dog person.

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Which is your favourite day?

 

Sunday. Maybe? It’s a very relaxing day. I get to go to Starbucks, do some work and some reading. I take part in SundayYA on a Sunday night. The only thing I don’t like about Sundays is that Sunday Night Fever that teachers suffer from! 

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What is your favourite crisp? 

I do love Squares. Cheese and onion flavour. But I love all the crisps. 

What is your favourite chocolate?

Galaxy Ripple probably. (I’m secretly a sweets fan more than a chocolate fan, but I do enjoy a good bar of chocolate)

So there you go… not life changing questions. It’s always interesting to see what the children want to know. A few of them this week were about my graduation (with some excellent spellings of graduation… phonics always makes for a laugh!) so we had a chat about graduation! 

Did you try this with your class this year?
How did it go down?
What are your favourite activities to do with your class? 

I would love to hear more interesting activities like this for next year! Teacher training beckons!

S x

S4S – YALC books

Hello!

It’s Sunday again! How exciting! This week’s #SixforSunday theme is:

YALC books

Books that make me excited for YALC. Authors I am excited to meet.

  1. Sin Eater’s Daughter – Melinda Salisbury (BOOKBLOG: Queen Mel)
  2. A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard (BOOKBLOG: Sara Barnard)
  3. Ink – Alice Broadway (BOOKBLOG: ALICE BROADWAY)
  4. Truth or Dare – Non Pratt
  5. The Call – Paedar O’Guilin (BOOKBLOG: Peadar Ó Guilín)
  6. Traitor To The Throne – Alwyn Hamilton (BOOK BLOG: Alwyn Hamilton 2)

I talk about most of these books ALL of the time, but I can’t wait to see these authors for the first time/for the next time and tell them how much I love their book. I love all of the books. There are so many other books I am excited to YALC for. 

Are you coming to YALC?
What are your favourite YALC books?
Who are you excited to meet?

If you wanna join in use the hashtag #SixforSunday, I would love to see your posts!!

S x

Letters to… my kids

I know they’ll never read this, but it only feel right that now the year is over I get to say thanks to them myself. 

Hello you lot,

We’ve been through a lot this year haven’t we? It’s not always been easy, we’ve not always got on, but it turned out alright in the end. A lot has happened this past year! I’ve graduated, you’ve all grown into incredible humans and we did it together.

I’ve got a few things to say to you before we finish this year. I have a massive thank you. You have no idea how much I have to thank you for… so here’s just a few of the things:

  • Listening: even when you were being noisy, or being pains you always listened to me. There were times when no one else was listening to me but you always did. Listening is hard, but you’ve shown me this year that it’s possible to listen (even if you don’t want to). You’re all brilliant listeners, just remember that.
  • Learning: we learned a lot this year together and I don’t just mean the things in the classroom. We did some brilliant writing together, we learned a lot about Russia that I had never known before! We developed some brilliant skills together, we made mistakes together. You helped me fix my own mistakes and I hope you learned that it is OK to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them.
  • Kindness: you never failed to amaze me with your level of kindness this year. Yes, there were times when you weren’t kind to each other and there were times when we had to talk about being kind, but you came out on the right side of kind. We’ve learned a lot about friendship and kindness from each other – always remember to be kind. It costs you nothing.
  • Laughter: we have laughed a lot this year. You laugh at the terrible jokes the head tells you, you laugh at my sarcastic comments, you laugh when I don’t expect you to. You’ve made each other laugh, you’ve cheered each other up and you’ve certainly cheered me up on days when there was no happiness. It’s been a joy coming into to classroom seeing your smiles. Don’t lose that. 
  • Reading: my favourite thing about this year has been our time spent with books. You know I love books. I know you’ve come to love books almost as much as me. You’ve been excited when a new book arrived from me, you’ve shared your favourite bits of books, you’ve been honest about books we’re reading. You never fail to see the best in books. We’ve sat on the carpet together and read together. You’ve let me share books with you that I never thought I would. Your excitement for reading never fails to astound me. Each time you’ve asked to talk about books in your own time, when you’ve taken your book to read at playtime or lunchtime, you’ve made me smile. Books are special and we have definitely learned a lot from books this year. Perijee taught us about friendship, Demon Dentist taught us about being brave, The Island at the End of Everything taught us about the importance of family and including everyone. Each and every book has mattered. Our reading time is my favourite memory of this year. Never lose your wonder in books. 

If I was to keep going I’d be here forever.

You’re an incredible bunch of humans with the most incredible attitude and potential. Remember to be kind to each other all the time. Learn from yourself and each other at all times. Ask questions and be inquisitive. Read everything. Enjoy books. Don’t read books you’re not enjoying. Dream big. Trying is what matters. Remember to smile and remember it’s OK to cry. 

It has been a pleasure this year. We have learned a lot together.

Miss Elliott x

Favourite Protagonists

Hello! Today we have a new guest blog – this time from my lovely friend Jess from Bookends and Endings and she’s telling us all about her favourite main characters! 

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Hi there! I’m Jess from Bookends and Endings, and today I’m sharing my favourite protagonists here on Steph’s blog. Something that can easily make or break a book for me is the main character. It’s all very well for a book to be well written, well plotted, just excellent in general – but if I dislike the protagonist, it’s almost certain that the book won’t be one of my favourites. They don’t have to be likeable necessarily, but they need to be interesting, and I have to be on their side, and want for things to turn out well for them.

First up has to be the protagonist from one of my favourite books of last year: Norah from Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall. Norah suffers from agoraphobia, anxiety, and OCD, and lives trapped inside her house, until the arrival of her cute new neighbour helps her to challenge her mental health issues. Norah is a protagonist you just can’t help but love; she’s quite vulnerable, and it definitely brought out a protective side in me as a reader. Her character arc and character voice were so compelling, and she’s a protagonist I’ve been left thinking about long since I finished the book.

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Amani from Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton is another main character who I simply love. There are lots of things I adore in her, but mainly for me it’s her wit that has kept her in mind for me as a protagonist I can’t get enough of. I don’t want to give any spoilers, hence I can’t say too much about certain aspects of her, but I can say that she’s witty (I honestly sit there laughing and smiling at the book because her humorous comments are too good not to laugh at), she’s brave, and she’s incredibly determined. Funny to read about but also courageous and strong – a wonderful combination!

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The next main character is from a book I’ve seen talked about a lot in the book blogging community, and that is Frances from Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. There was so much about Frances which I think just speaks to people, especially in the way she feels stressed by school and has a lot of exam pressure weighing down on her, and this definitely makes her realistic, I feel. She’s also such an easy character to relate to, and so representative of modern teenagers (lots of stuff to do with fandoms and the internet!), so she sticks out to me as an outstanding protagonist.

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Wing, the titular character from Katherine Webber’s debut novel, Wing Jones, is my final choice. I read this book very recently, especially in comparison to these other books, but I just think this shows what a great protagonist she is. She has such a wonderful emotional journey – she displays selflessness, but is also very human in the way she gets frustrated sometimes at those around her. On the whole, a stunning character!

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Thanks to Steph for having me on her blog – I hope you enjoyed this guest post! Who are your favourite protagonists?

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Thank you so much to Jess for sharing her favourite protagonists with us! If you’d like to follow Jess (which you should!), her links are below:

Twitter

WordPress

S x

Graduate reflections

This time last week I was sitting in the Stadium of Light waiting to graduate. I was listening to a speech about the things that the University of Sunderland has achieved over the past year, thinking about what I had achieved over the past 2 years. Two years of my life had built up to this – this one day, one step in the right direction of where I needed to be. I started this process of wanting to be a teacher when I was about 10. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be. It’s one of the few dreams that has stayed with me since childhood. 

I gave up on myself a bit in my late teensI was young and in love, college wasn’t what I had expected, I didn’t have great self discipline, I was a bit lost BUT I was good at my job at the time. That job became my life, but the voice of young me shouting about being a teacher never quite went away. I was good at my job and I did enjoy it – there was progression, I had responsibilities, I was trusted, my opinions mattered –  I saw some kind of future; I worked with a brilliant bunch of people who I definitely called friends… there was just something missing. Proper, real, ultimate passion. I liked my job (and more importantly I was GOOD AT IT), but I didn’t have passion for it like I knew I did for teaching. I knew I had to do something about it.

I did. I studied part time and worked full time, to get some kind of childcare qualification to get my job in school. I got my job in school 8 years ago. I always knew though that teaching was the job for me. I needed to get there. People had pushed me to do it but I needed to be ready. Then, two years ago, I was ready (as I ever would be). And the rest is history. Here I am now. A graduate with a place on a teacher training course. One massive step towards my goal. Had you told me two years ago this was where I would be I would’ve told you you were a liar. But I am here. 

Hard work is important but working hard is where it’s at. Reaching your dreams and goals is HARD. Standing still is easy. You’ll never get anywhere if you stand still. Keep moving. 

If you’ve got a dream, follow it.
If something is missing in your life, find it.
If you want something enough, chase it.

I’ll never claim that it was easy to follow my dreams, because it hasn’t been. Two years of hard work (working full time and studying part time took over my life, it was tough) has brought me here. I’m half way there. I should be proud of where I am. I am. I just see that I have a way to go. I need to remind myself that it’s OK to look back and be proud. I chased my dream and I’ve nearly caught it. It’s not been easy, but it’s been worth it. I need to be proud of how far I’ve come already, not think about what’s left to come.

I am excited and nervous for the future. It’s going to be a ride. I’m sure if you keep reading in the future, you’ll find out all about it. 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Will Mabbitt

This Is Not A Fairy Tale: fun, funny, fabulous!

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“Sophie doesn’t want a fairy tale about drippy princesses and pompous princes, she wants the princess to do the rescuing, with a ferocious, fighting transformer! Together Sophie and her dad revolutionise story time for a second time in this clever, funny and heart-ravingly exciting picture book, sure to inspire and delight every little girl and boy.

Storytime will never be the same again”

When I received an email from my lovely book fairy Sarah at Penguin asking me if I would like a copy of this, I jumped at the chance! I love Will Mabbitt stories (see: BOOKBLOG: Will Mabbitt for more love) and this looked like a perfect book to take to school! 

This Is Not A Fairy Tale is a brilliant book about the power of imagination. Sophie changes her usual prince-saving-princess fairy tale into an amazing story of princesses saving princes, featuring transforming combine harvesters, jet packs and bald princes

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I loved the fact that this was about an awesome princess saving a prince! I took this book to school and read it to some of my littles and they absolutely loved it. One of the girls said “Miss, I’m going to write my own story about an awesome princess like this one cause girls are strong and cool. More than princes!“. One of my quiet boys commented on the illustrations saying, “Miss, I wish I could draw like that. It’s like the man who drew the pictures made the story come to life. Imagine if I could do that job when I’m older“. Kids are the cutest. They absolutely loved this book and it remained in the reading corner for a few days, with someone reading it at every opportunity!

It would be a brilliant book to read for a fairy tales topic! Brilliant for KS1 classrooms, even lower KS2 classes. I think my Y4s would love this book! I may take it to read to them this week. 

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Have you read This Is Not A Fairy Tale?
Which fairy tale would you love to be part of?
Which kick ass princess is your favourite?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter! I love me a picture book, and a kick ass princess even more!!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Kerry Drewery

Cell 7: haunting, thought-provoking, infuriating

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“Should she live or die? You decide 

An adored celebrity has been killed. Sixteen-year-old Martha Honeydew was found holding a gun, standing over the body. Now Justice must prevail. The general public will decide whether Martha is innocent or guilty by viewing daily episodes of the hugely popular TV show Death is Justice, the only TV show that gives the power of life and death decisions – all for the price of a phone call. Martha has admitted to the crime. But is she guilty? Or is reality sometimes more complicated than the images we are shown on TV?”

Cell 7 has been sat on my shelf for AGES. Like a year. I got it from UKYACX last year (if you wanna know more see: UKYACX book haul!) and it has sat on my shelf ever since. I just never got round to it! THEN #SundayYA hosted Kerry a few Sundays ago and she was talking about Day 7 (the sequel) and my gorgeous friend Kelly was reading Cell 7… all of the chatter around it MADE me have to read it. There were a few Cell 7 spoilers from the Day 7 chat BUT I still loved every single second of it. 

Cell 7 explores a world in which once a person has done something wrong they have only have potentially 7 days left of their life. Life and death decisions become a reality TV contest. You win or lose based on how many people vote on you living or dying. Martha confesses to killing a well adored celebrity and it is down to the public to decide if she lives or dies. 

Throughout this book there are moments where I wanted to throw it against the wall. There’s characters who just DROVE ME UP THE WALL. I hated them. They stood for the worst things in life. They spouted forth their skewed views on life. Contrasting this though there were characters I really loved. Characters I really wanted to succeed. I liked Martha. I liked Isaac. Her councillor was pretty brazen: she fought for Martha. The judge is an interesting character. 

I really enjoyed (in whatever sadistic way one can) seeing the different cells that Martha had to go through. Watching them change and manipulate her moods was interesting. Knowing that she is getting closer to the end and that death was probably looming. There’s definitely some dark, twisted parts of this book that will make you think.

 I am very much looking forward to reading Day 7 now. 

Have you read Cell 7?
What did you think of the ending?
Do you think our world could end up in the way Cell 7 paints the world?

S x

 

 

See the good in the world…

A while back I posted my first post about things I’m thankful for/things that make me happy (check it out here: Happy things…) inspired by my gorgeous friend Grace. Today we have post 2 of things that make me happy… it’s important to remember good things! I beat myself up often so having posts like this are brilliant for me.

Things that have made me happy recently:

YALC announcements. Sunny days. Coffee. Spending time with friends. Road trips. Kids lit. YA books. Rainbow bookshelves. Trips to Waterstones. Brilliant lessons. Unexpected great lessons. University results. Texts from friends. Tweets from friends. Looking forward to the future. Working hard and seeing the results. Listening to the rain. Texts from my brother. Ed Sheeran tickets. Ed Sheeran lyrics. Buying books as presents. Ariana Grande songs. Friends buying me amazing books. Countdown to summer. Trampolining. Sebastian Roche. Despacito. 

What about you?
What’s made you smile recently? 
What would make your happy list?

Let me know in the comments, or share a link to your own post! I would love to see more happy positivity going round. 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Maz Evans

Simply The Quest: simply the best. 

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“Elliot and Virgo’s troubles are far from over: death-daemon
Thanatos and his scary mum are at large and determined to
destroy the world. As even more immortal allies and enemies
emerge, Virgo and Elliot must learn how to be heroes …”

Simply The Quest is the second book in the ‘Who Let The Gods Out?’ series and I was OVER THE MOON when I got an email from the lovely humans at Chicken House asking me if I wanted a copy… NATURALLY I SAID YES. (Look at my happy face. This is the face of OMG THIS BOOK HAS ARRIVED I AM SO HAPPY I COULD CRY) So yes, I was a little bit happy that the book was with me, finally. I had waited since the end of Who Let The Gods Out to get my hands on this book. Now it was in my possession I was a happy bunny. It was SO WORTH THE WAIT. 

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‘Simply The Quest’ follows Elliot and Virgo on their journey to try and find the Air Stone, whilst battling with Elliot’s teacher and former neighbour, on top of trying to keep Josie-Mum safe and in check at home. 

Just as WLTGO introduced us to some incredible gods – Hermes, Athene, Aphrodite, Zeus – STQ introduces some new faces and they are SO GOOD. I loved the original gods and totally loved these new additions, they added something special to what is an incredible series already. To earn her kardia back (and therefore become immortal again) Virgo has to become a hero – so naturally Maz wrote in some of the brilliant Ancient Greek Gods. Hercules makes an appearance, as does Jason and Theseus – each of them giving Elliot a gift that will come in very handy on his quest. You see these heroes in a brand new light as they’re all following new career paths – all very funny and chuckleworthy! 

In every story there’s good and there’s evil. And the evil in this book is most certainly evil. Thanatos and his mother Nyx certainly do not make Elliot’s life easy. They try to manipulate him, use the one thing he loves the most against him, all to get him on their side to reveal the location of the Chaos Stones.

There’s glimpses of Elliot’s dark side in this book which were interesting to read. To see a selfish, dark side of a character I have come to totally love. He’s selfless, brave and driven. His mother is his world. His family (extended as far as the gods!) mean everything to him. You see him struggle with his emotions in this book; there’s more anger and doubt; he discovers new things about his life; there’s a MASSIVE surprise at the end – it actually made me gasp. Elliot remains throughout this young boy who is struggling to juggle a house full of gods, people trying to separate him from his mother, school and controlling the chaos stones. A bit much for a teenager, right?

Simply The Quest manages to be funny, silly, serious, touching, honest, tough and uplifting all in one go. There’s some brilliant messages there too that even made me think. Naturally I cried. There’s a moment with Josie and Hermes which just punched me in the gut. Took me totally by surprise. There’s moments with Virgo trying to figure jokes out that made me laugh out loud. 

I love this series so much. Maz is an absolute genius. Please go out and buy it, borrow it from your library, get it for your classroom/school. You won’t regret it. 

My goodreads review:

“Another absolute winner from Maz. WLTGO was an exceptional start to this series and STQ just blew me away. It deals with Elliot’s issues with his mum, introduces him to a new family member and discusses morality – what is good? what is bad? 
I loved having these characters in my life again. I laughed a lot. Virgo is one of those bloody rays of light in books like this – her trying to understand jokes is one of those gorgeous things about this book. There’s some very touching moments between Josie and a few of the characters – there’s one with Hermes that had me bawling. 
I absolutely adored this. I implore you all to read it. Please.”

Have you read this series?
IF YOU HAVEN’T, WHY HAVEN’T YOU?
What do you think will happen next? 

I’d love to know what you thought of STQ! Let me know in the comments or on twitter – I have so much love for this series that I need to share it with all of the people.

S x

 

 

BOOKBLOG: Will Hill

After The Fire: hard-hitting, moving and tough. But so worth it.

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“Father John controls everything inside The Fence. And Father John likes rules. Especially about never talking to Outsiders. Because Father John knows the truth. He knows what is right, and what is wrong. He knows what is coming. Moonbeam is starting to doubt, though. She’s starting to see the lies behind Father John’s words. She wants him to be found out. What if the only way out of the darkness is to light a fire?”

After The Fire tells the story of Moonbeam, a young girl who lives in a cult, who is taken away by the Outsiders when there is a big fire on the property. It tells her journey from being inside of the cult to being on the outside. You watch her go from a scared, lonely, doubting young lady to someone attempting to be ready for the outside world to hit her. 

The thing I loved most about this book was the interspersion of flashbacks with now. The book is written with Moonbeam’s memories woven into her recovery. Every other chapter is an insight into life inside the cult. From the wicked Father John, to Nate – the lovely, ray of light Nate – and the day to day business of being part of the Legion. These insights into life with the Legion fascinated me. Despicable acts to multiple wives: it is all explored in Moonbeam’s flashbacks. As you go through the book, you learn more about Moonbeam’s life – the loss of her mother, friends and loveable Father. Moonbeam’s journey of faith was an interesting part of this book – you watch her turn from believer to doubter… should she believe the Outsiders are all bad? Or are the worst acts happening in front of her eyes?

The characters, the stories and the journies make this book exceptionally special. It isn’t only Moonbeam who will touch your heart, but you meet Luke – poor Luke, whose whole life is follow Father John and his teachings – and some of the others who are rescued from the cult – shout out to brave Honey. There’s also an FBI agent who as the book went on, I really started to like – as Moonbeam warms to him, as she begins to trust him her revelations about life with the Legion get more intense.  

I would absolutely recommend this to everyone. Please, go on, read it. I was lucky enough to get a proof copy from Usborne.

Have you read After The Fire?
What did you think of Father John?
Can you recommend any other cult books to me?

Let me know in the comments below! I need more books like this! Or tweet me (@eenalol) 

S x